By Con George-Kotzabasis
President Obama’s envoy in the Middle East George Mitchell has been given the hapless task of setting a process of a peace deal between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel through a shuttling diplomacy that succeeded in the past only when the levers of such diplomacy were in the hands of the master diplomat Henry Kissinger. The Obama administration having a dearth of first class diplomats, is replacing the Gulliverian diplomats of the past with Lilliputians to handle the foreign policy of the sole superpower in these most dangerous times. Neither Hillary Clinton, least of all George Mitchell, can orbit the ‘solar diplomacy’ of either Dean Acheson (“Present at the Creation”) or of Henry Kissinger, (The Mao breaker) and in their attempt to imitate these grand masters and their achievements in the vocation of Talleyrand, they will have the fate of burned out falling stars. The Secretary of State in her role as Venus in the romantic ‘loving diplomacy’ of President Obama has failed to attract and ‘bed’ any lovers in the President’s boudoir. Neither the Iranians nor the Palestinians, who as ‘lovers’, scorn the earthly aphrodisiacs of the Western boudoir and eye in contrast lecherously the celestial one with its seventy-two virgins, had a predilection to be smitten by the exotic diplomatic charms of Obama. Iran in countenancing the U.S. diplomatic overture launched its own and in a clever manoeuvre reached an agreement with Brazil and Turkey with the aim if not to cut the ground under Obama’s feet for a new set of UN sanctions to at least make their content so weak and ineffective as to have no consequence upon its determination and ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. While the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Arab League and Egyptian pressure dropped its insistence on a general freeze of Jewish building and settlements and agreed to participate not in direct talks with Israel but in a shuttling diplomacy brokered by the United States, after the latter in turn pressured Israel to make concessions by temporarily halting new building in Jerusalem.
In relation to the “proximity talks” announced by the U.S. Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister said: “We ask for real peace in which we work on the basis of Israeli interests of mutuality, on a solution regarding return (of Palestinians refugees), on recognizing the state of Israel as Jewish and holding negotiations without preconditions.” The PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said: “The Palestinians, with the support of the Arab League monitoring committee, are likely to agree to renew the negotiations even if Israel quietly undertakes to stop construction in the settlements and East Jerusalem and doesn’t make a public declaration about it.” Politically, Prime Minister Netanyahu might not survive if he announced even a temporary stop to Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. But the same goes if this halt became visible and known through the media by the Israeli public. Mr. Netanyahu could only survive the ire of the Israeli public only if he would have a chance to extract from the PA greater benefits, such as ironclad security for its people from Palestinian attacks and recognition of the state of Israel, for the political costs issuing from the halting of settlements in East Jerusalem.
But since the announcement of the proximity talks for few months now there has been deafening silence on that front. And it is clear that the shuttle has broken before it even started. As for meaningful direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis that the Obama administration in its continued bout of wishful thinking was hoping, remains a mirage. And the latest deadly clash on the Lebanon Israel border and the sabre-rattling of Hezbollah, and the rockets launched against Israel from an area controlled by Hamas, do not bode well that any direct talks will take place anytime soon.
President Obama’s strategic locomotive of The Middle East that would bring the two parties to the negotiating table and would announce its peaceful process on all its stops to the Arab world, has been mockingly derailed by the inexperienced and untrained Obama himself sitting at the driver’s seat.
I rest on my oars: Your turn now